Monday, December 19, 2011

Driving While Distracted (DWD) - Stop The Regulation Insanity!

With the recent news that the NTSB wants a ban on cell phone use while driving, including the use of hands free devices, I think it’s time to bring some sanity to the insanity of over regulation.

While I believe that texting while driving a car, truck, bus, or train is inherently dangerous as it can not only take a driver’s hands off the wheel but also their eyes for too much time, the suggestion to ban hands free cell phone devices is just plain ridiculous. Talking on a cell phone while driving and using hands free device in the process is no more distracting than driving with a passenger in the car. Granted, sometimes having a passenger (or passengers) in the car can be a distraction, but  the NTSB hasn’t suggested a ban on having passengers in a car or any other motor vehicle...yet.

If banning hands free cell phones comes to pass, maybe the NTSB should look at these other behaviors that can distract drivers:


1. Eating/drinking beverages while driving: – Admit it, everyone has seen a driver weaving down the road while drinking a cup of coffee or chowing down on a sandwich.

2. Applying makeup while driving: I’ve never had the urge to do this myself, but I have seen other women apply mascara while driving. Scary.

3. Having a radio/music player in the car: In the late 1960s, some kid trying to change the channel on his radio lost control of his car and demolished my parent’s mailbox as he went off the road. Imagine if we had a law banning changing radio channels in the 1960s – this accident would have never happened (sarcasm intended).

4. Changing the heating/cooling settings while driving: Sometimes it’s hard to see the controls, and I admit I must take my eyes off the road for a second to change them. Maybe if we didn’t have the ability to heat or cool our cars, there would be no accidents! (more sarcasm)

5. Putting purses, bags, briefcases, or any non-human object in the front seat: Sometimes things shift off the seat while driving, and sometimes people lean over to pick them up. Case in point: a Miami cop drive up a utility pole when he bent over to pick up a pen. If we ban any objects in the front seat – especially pens! – accidents like this will never occur. (even more sarcasm)

6. Simply looking out the window can distract a driver. Who hasn’t had something catch their eyes while driving which takes the eyes off the road for a brief period? Maybe everyone should wear blinders?


By now, you get my point. There are many things that can distract drivers, and sometimes bad things can happen when drivers are distracted. All it takes is a few seconds with a driver’s eyes off the road and accidents, even fatalities, can occur. Texting while driving IS a big problem. But let’s not get carried away with more rules and regulations that are not practical or that are very hard to police. If there were never any distractions, we’d have far fewer accidents. But we live in a world filled with distractions, and it is virtually impossible to write laws to prevent all of them. The best course of action is to educate drivers on what is safe driving behavior, and what is not – and to hope that the person behind the wheel has enough common sense to practice safe driving.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No NBA Season? Feel For the Cities, Not the Players

The NBA owners/players stalemate continues. The season was already late in starting, and now, as the players reject another offer, the whole season is in jeopardy.

I could care less about the NBA players and whether the season even begins. Basketball is a boring sport. There is little suspense in the game, at least not until the last 3-5 minutes or so. With frequent and usually easy scoring opportunities, it’s not a sport that I want to waste much time in watching, especially one that simply goes back and forth on the playing court in rapid succession.

I do feel badly for the cities that host NBA teams, as many businesses in those cities rely on NBA games in order to bring in customers. This includes restaurants, hotels, retails stores, and even parking garages. And the cities themselves depend on the tax dollars gained from those businesses.

I don’t know all the details of the disagreement, but I do know it’s the players who have rejected the owners offer and are now resorting to games of their own by disbanding their union so they can file an antitrust lawsuit. With that in mind, I am inclined to believe that the players are being more greedy than the owners, and it’s the players that care the least about NBA fans and also the cities that host the teams.

But make no mistake – both the players and the owners have a lot to gain or lose here. Sadly, it’s the fans and the cities that suffer the most.


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Video & Transcript “Rock Center” Interview: Bob Costas with Jerry Sandusky

I thought this may be of interest to those of you following the Penn State sex abuse story. It’s a sickening tale, with the abuse of children going on in plain sight, with the sport of college football being protected more than the children.   Courtesy of NBC, here is the video and a transcript segment from the interview that Bob Costas had with Jerry Sandusky on yesterday's "Rock Center."  It will give you the creeps.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Transcript follows: 

TRANSCRIPT: “ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS” BOB COSTAS, JERRY SANDUSKY AND JOE AMENDOLA
Sandusky Breaks His Silence in an Exclusive Interview


New York, NY – November 14, 2011 – In an exclusive interview with Bob Costas for NBC's "Rock Center with Brian Williams," former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky speaks for the first time. Sandusky spoke to Costas via phone, his attorney Joe Amendola was in studio.

MANDATORY CREDIT: NBC News “Rock Center with Brian Williams”
November 14, 2011

BOB COSTAS:
Mr. Sandusky, there's a 40-count indictment. The grand jury report contains specific detail. There are multiple accusers, multiple eyewitnesses to various aspects of the abuse. A reasonable person says where there's this much smoke, there must be plenty of fire. What do you say?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
I say that I am innocent of those charges.

BOB COSTAS:
Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact. But - so if you look at it that way - there are things that wouldn't - you know, would be accurate.

BOB COSTAS:
Are you denying that you had any inappropriate sexual contact with any of these underage boys?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Yes, I-- yes I am.

BOB COSTAS:
Never touched their genitals? Never engaged in oral sex?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Right.

BOB COSTAS:
What about Mike McQueary, the grad assistant who in 2002 walked into the shower where he says in specific detail that you were forcibly raping a boy who appeared to be ten or 11 years old? That his hands were up against the shower wall and he heard rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds and he described that as a rape?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
I would say that that's false.

BOB COSTAS:
What would be his motive to lie?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
You'd have to ask him that.

BOB COSTAS:
What did happen in the shower the night that Mike McQueary happened upon you and the young boy?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Okay, we-- we were showing and-- and horsing around. And he actually turned all the showers on and was-- actually sliding-- across the-- the floor. And we were-- as I recall possibly like snapping a towel, horseplay.

BOB COSTAS:
In 1998, a mother confronts you about taking a shower with her son and inappropriately touching him. Two detectives eavesdrop on a conversation with you, and you admit that maybe your private parts touched her son. What happened there?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
I can't exactly recall what was said there. In terms of-- what I did say was that if he felt that way, then I was wrong,

BOB COSTAS:
During one of those conversations, you said, "I understand, I was wrong, I wish I could get forgiveness," speaking now with the mother. "I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." A guy falsely accused or a guy whose actions have been misinterpreted doesn't respond that way, does he?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
I don't know. I didn't say, to my recollection that I wish I were dead. I was hopeful that we could reconcile things.

BOB COSTAS:
Shortly after that in 2000, a janitor said that he saw you performing oral sex on a young boy in the showers-- in the Penn State locker facility. Did that happen?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No.

BOB COSTAS:
How could somebody think they saw something as extreme and shocking as that when it hadn't occurred, and what would possibly be their motivation to fabricate it?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
You'd have to ask them.

BOB COSTAS:
It seems that if all of these accusations are false, you are the unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us has ever heard about.

JERRY SANDUSKY:
(LAUGHS) I don't know what you want me to say. I don't think that these have been the best days of my life.

###

BOB COSTAS:
You said a few days ago much more is going to come out in our defense. In broad terms, what?

JOE AMENDOLA:
We expect we're going to have a number of kids. Now how many of those so-called eight kids, we're not sure. But we anticipate we're going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say this never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred. In fact, one of the toughest allegations -- the McQueary violations -- what McQueary said he saw, we have information that that child says that never happened. Now grown up... now the person's in his twenties.

BOB COSTAS
Until now, we were told that that alleged victim could not be identified, you have iden--?

JOSEPH AMENDOLA:
By the commonwealth.

BOB COSTAS:
You have identified?

JOSEPH AMENDOLA:
We think we have

BOB COSTAS:
So you found him, the commonwealth has not?

JOSEPH AMENDOLA:
Interesting, isn't it?

BOB COSTAS:
Would you allow your own children to be alone with your client?

JOE AMENDOLA:
Absolutely. I believe in Jerry's innocence. Quite honestly, Bob, that's why I'm involved in the case.

BOB COSTAS:
You believe in his innocence?

JOE AMENDOLA:
His innocence.

###

BOB COSTAS:
To your knowledge did Joe Paterno at any time ever speak to you directly about your behavior?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No.

BOB COSTAS:
Never?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No.

BOB COSTAS:
He never asked you about what you might have done? He never asked you if you needed help? If you needed counseling?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No. No.

BOB COSTAS:
Never? Never expressed disapproval of any kind?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No.

BOB COSTAS:
How do you feel about what has happened to Penn State to Joe Paterno, and to the Penn State football program and your part in it?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
How would you think that I would feel about a university that I attended, about people that I've worked with, about people that I care so much about? And I mean how do you think I would feel about it? I feel horrible.

BOB COSTAS:
You feel horrible. Do you feel culpable?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
I'm not sure I know what you mean.

BOB COSTAS:
Do you feel guilty? Do you feel as if it's your fault?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Guilty--?

BOB COSTAS:
This is your fault?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No I don't think it's my fault. I've obviously played a part in this.

BOB COSTAS:
How would you define the part you played? What are you willing to concede that you've done that was wrong and you wish you had not done it?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Well, in retrospect, I-- you know, I shouldn't have showered with those kids. You know

BOB COSTAS:
That's it?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Well that-- yeah, that's what hits me the most.

BOB COSTAS:
Are you a pedophile?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
No.

BOB COSTAS:
Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?

BOB COSTAS:
Yes.

JERRY SANDUSKY:
Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.

BOB COSTAS:
Obviously you're entitled to a presumption of innocence and you'll receive a vigorous defense. On the other hand, there is a tremendous amount of information out there and fair-minded common sense people have concluded that you are guilty of monstrous acts. And they are particularly unforgiving with the type of crimes that have been alleged here. And so millions of Americans who didn't know Jerry Sandusky's name until a week ago now regard you not only as a criminal, but I say this I think in a considered way, but as some sort of monster. How do you respond to them?

JERRY SANDUSKY:
And I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say that if somehow people could hang out until my attorney has a chance to fight, you know, for my innocence. That’s about all I could ask right now. And you know, obviously, it's a huge challenge.


# # #



© 2011 NBCUniversal, Inc.





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Monday, October 10, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" Highlights Problems, Offers No Solutions

The “Occupy Wall Street” protest continues and has been spreading to other cities. It is obvious that the protesters are unhappy with the economy, the lack of jobs, and corporate greed. It’s a good thing for people to protest when they think something in this country need fixing. Sadly, their protests – at least at this point in time – offer no real solutions to the problem.

Here in the United States, the economy is based on capitalism, which means that profit is the goal of any business. During the course of turning a profit, companies employ people, buy products, sell their products, and use all kinds of support systems (such as transportation, service, banking) to move their product, service their product or customers, and move the money. Capitalism makes the wheels of employment turn in this country.

Part of those wheels are in Wall Street, not the location specifically but what Wall Street represents – bankers, brokers, investors, fund managers, etc. These are the people who are involved more in controlling how money is invested and where it is invested. The movie “Wall Street” featured the character Gordon Gekko, whose tag line was “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Greed may be good for Wall Street workers, but that greed is likely what helped to destroy the economy. But being greedy is not illegal.

The Occupy Wall Street protests seem to have a whole list of varying complaints – they don’t have a job, they don’t make enough money, their own investments in the market (as in 401k programs) are in the toilet – the list goes on. But no one is offering solutions. There seems to be no leadership within the Occupy Wall Street group, so there doesn’t seem to be central spokespersons to help drive the message home. And exactly what is that message? It seems to vary by person and even by city.

The Occupy Wall Street will help to draw attention to the plight of the lower and middle class working men and women who are struggling to survive in a dismal economy. But Occupy Wall Street needs to take that attention one step further by offing solutions for change, whether it be to propose new legislation or new ideas for to create jobs. It won’t be easy; if it were easy, someone would have done it already. It’s important to note that the greed in Wall Street is only one of the symptoms of the problem. The real issue is that our current laws allow Wall Street to have enough loopholes and/or lack of controls which encourages making money sometimes by simply moving money, or by using tax loopholes. Occupy Wall Street may be protesting the wrong people and area. They should be looking toward their own legislators and to Washington DC and how those legislators allow for laws – which includes a skewed taxation system - that only make the wealthy wealthier.

Our current legislators appear ineffective in creating an environment where job creation can thrive. No one truly cares if the rich get a little richer if EVERYONE can earn a good wage and can live a comfortable life. But jobs do not appear out of thin air, and it can take money in order to make money. We still need business owners to invest their own capital in order to create businesses and industries that create jobs, and these business owners deserve to reap those profits. Sometimes “Wall Street” can help make those businesses happen. There is no doubt, however, that those on Wall Street that create wealth by the use of smoke and mirrors - who get away with it because the laws allow it - need to be curtailed. Occupy Wall Street can help fix this problem – IF they can gain focus and make their rag-tag protests into a clearly defined movement with a real plan and a real purpose. Change is good – but change also can be very hard work.



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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Halloween: Too Ghoulish For My Tastes

Growing up in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Halloween was a holiday where we dressed up in costumes and walked house to house collecting candy. Our costumes were simple – a sheet for a ghost, a homemade paper crown with a dress for a princess, or even one of those awful preformed plastic masks with eye holes that one could barely see out. Most homes had a pumpkin on their front step, and many families made it an event to carve its face. In our house, we saved the pumpkins seeds and toasted them in the oven and, with a little sprinkle of salt, we had a great snack. We would come home with our bag full of small candies that our parents would check over before we ate.

Those days are long gone, and now Halloween is a multi-billion dollar business – and very dark and ghoulish. In fact, the holiday seems more important to adults than it does to kids.

The National Retail Federation says this about Halloween in 2011: Ghouls and goblins galore, Halloween celebrations will be BOOming this year as more people than ever are expected to partake in traditional festivities. According to NRF’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, seven in 10 Americans (68.6%) plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8 percent last year and the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history. Those celebrating are expected to spend slightly more too; the average person will shell out $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.”

I have no problem with Halloween for the most part. I buy several bags of candy for the less than handful of children that come to my house that night. I admit I’m happy when we don’t get a lot of visitors, because then I can snack on that delicious chocolate candy over the following weeks. What I don’t like about Halloween is the increasing trend with the overly ghoulish and gory tone that the holiday has taken over the years. It seems that adults have hijacked a children's holiday and turned it into a day to honor the most gross and disgusting things imaginable. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre, but it doesn’t seem like fun to me to visit one of those Halloween haunted houses and have people dressed in gory costumes try to scare the wits out of me.

It may be my wish for the simpler days of being a child, but I think it’s more that I don’t get the fascination that some people have with things so dark and disturbing. But, to each his/her own, I guess. As long as I have an excuse to buy tons of chocolate candy for the holiday, I’m happy!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Airline Fees Confound on Purpose; Just Raise Rates Already!

Air travelers are getting hammered by the airlines with every sort of added fee that one can imagine. Extra fees for baggage, extra fees for changing your ticket, fees to use pillows, blankets, food…the list goes on. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to determine the best rate for any trip via airline.

That’s the idea.

Airlines use the excuse that they need to add these fees to be profitable. In my opinion, that has little to do with it. If maintaining profitability was the reason for the added fees,  wouldn't it be easier for the airlines to just raise rates to achieve the desired profit margin and quote an all-encompassing amount including a basic list of services? But no, they don’t want to do that. It would make it too easy for anyone to compare airlines and see who had the best fare for any given trip.

The airlines must think that consumers are stupid and don’t notice their air fare sleight of hand. And maybe some people ARE stupid, because many continue to fly and fall victim to the airlines charging them extra for every little thing.

All the airlines should offer a tiered rate system, so anyone can generate a price for their air travel based on their needs. It would be helpful to have a simple program which builds a rate based on the destination, plus number of carry-ons and/or suitcases, and amenities needed. The airlines can charge whatever they want for any segment, but there should be a bottom line price that a person can compare to other airlines.

I wouldn’t hold my breath for the airlines to come together to make any sense of this. After all, it’s in their advantage to continue to confound travelers.


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The 2012 Presidential Election: Is It Over Yet?


It’s over a year away but I’m already tired of the 2012 Presidential election. The mudslinging was already in progress and now with last night’s Republican debate on MSNBC, the Republican candidates have started sniping at each other.

It’s tiresome…and it’s just started. I hope for the day that politicians can spend more time on actually fixing the problems that face the American people, not on trying to move up in the political world. Who knows, maybe the politician who actually gets things done wouldn’t need to spend so much time – or money – on campaigning if their results stood for themselves?



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Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Michele Bachmann: God Is Likely Not A Terrorist

Michele Bachmann, who is hoping to be the Republican nominee for President, seems to have the opinion that God sends messages to politicians via natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.

In a campaign stop in Florida this weekend, Bachmann said:

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

While I don’t know “God” personally and consider myself to be agnostic, I would hesitate to think that anyone’s God would use a natural disaster to send a message. Why? Because it doesn’t seem rational that God would be a terrorist. Isn’t this exactly how Bachmann describes God – as someone who has to inflict terror upon people in order to get attention?

Bachmann also contradicts herself in her statement when she comments that God says, "Are you going to start listening to me here?" but then goes on to say “Listen to the American people…” So, are we supposed to listen to God - or to the American people? Either God is confused, or Michelle Bachmann is confused (probably the latter).

If anything, words like Bachmann’s should be the real message to voters: find another candidate besides Bachmann to support. With her irrational viewpoint, she could be another looming natural disaster for the United States.

Update: Now Bachmann now says this was a joke - here is a video from another appearance she made the same weekend, her speech is slightly different but the message is the same. By the way - who jokes about earthquakes and hurricanes, especially when they've caused so much damage or even deaths?



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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Debt Crisis: Pathetic Politics As Usual

As the United States creeps closer to the debt ceiling, one thing is constant – some the country’s politicians continue to act like petulant children. House Speaker John Boehner, who I am ashamed to say is from my home state of Ohio, didn’t get his way and proceeded to walk away from debt talks with the Obama administration yesterday. It’s the equivalent of a child taking his ball and going home. Boehner, who is one to weep a the drop of a hat, apparently doesn’t like it when he can’t get his way.

President Barack Obama had something to say about the matter:



John Boehner and the Republican Party are playing a dangerous game of chicken with the debt crisis, and the American people will suffer because of it. These political shenanigans are likely why many companies aren’t hiring right now – who wants to invest in an economy that seems to be teetering on the brink of disaster? The debt ceiling has been raised many times before, by Republicans and Democrats alike, yet this time, the Republicans are using it as a stick to beat home some sort of political point.

No Congressman or Senator should be paid until this issue is resolved. In fact, they should get the negotiating team in a room together and not let them leave until they have the issued solved. The time to play games is over, it’s time for the politicians to do what they are elected to do – protect the interests of ALL the American people, not just the interests of their political party.


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Court of Public Opinion Doesn’t Count

With yesterday’s not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, there was an important lesson to be learned:  the court of public opinion does not count. While many seem shocked over what they perceive as a mother getting away with the murder of her daughter, those same people need to reflect on themselves and be shocked at their own behavior by passing judgment on someone before getting all the facts. The media is most to blame for fanning the flames for a guilty verdict. They should know better that it is the jury – not the media or the viewers – that have the last word.

The Casey Anthony trial was not some sort of reality competition show like “American Idol” where viewers can call in and vote to convict, This was real life where the judicial system makes the decision.  Some think that the not guilty verdict means that the system DIDN’T work – and they are wrong. The jury heard the whole case and did not hear any conclusive proof that Casey Anthony was guilty of murder.

Sure, it is highly suspicious that Casey did not report that her daughter Caylee was missing for over a month after Caylee’s disappearance. It does suggest that either she murdered her daughter, or knows who did. But this is the whole point of the not guilty verdict – the jury apparently did not believe that the prosecution proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Casey herself killed Caylee. Caylee is dead, but the prosecution never definitively answered the question -  who killed her and how?

Casey Anthony may be not guilty of murder, but the case does seem to imply that her parenting skills are questionable, after all, no good parent would allow their child to go missing for a month without reporting it. But a possible uncaring parent is not proof of murder.  The jury did convict Casey on the charges of her lying to law enforcement officers.

While the not guilty verdict may seem to fly in the face of logic, it is an important reminder that facts, not feelings, is what should be the factor in deciding guilt or innocence. Will the media learn this lesson for the next big case? I seriously doubt it.


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Facebook’s Annoying Captcha Code And Their Attempt To Grab Your Cell Phone Number


I cannot stand Facebook. I grudgingly use it as a service to the readers of my blogs, but I find interacting with their site cumbersome,  annoying, and most of all, invasive.

The last few weeks, Facebook has been asking me to type in a Captcha code for all my posts on my own pages. It wasn’t required at first, but as the weeks went by, it kept asking me to input the Captcha code more frequently. Facebook says that if I want to stop the Captcha code, I can verify my account, but I have to do it by giving them my cell phone number.

Why? I don’t use my cell phone to post anything to Facebook.  When I looked to see if there is a work around, I found this explanation in their own help section:

[Q:]Why is Facebook asking me to confirm my identity by providing my phone number?


[A:] This is a security measure to help ensure that Facebook remains a community of people using their real identities to connect and share. If you ever lose your password, you’ll also be able to use your mobile number to access your account.


To access your Facebook account, just follow the on-site instructions to add your mobile phone number. If you are having issues or are unable to complete the confirmation process, you can report the problem here.

I guess Facebook doesn’t consider my identity real if I have an email address, yet they considered me real enough when they allowed me to sign up with Facebook using my email address. I am highly suspicious of Facebook and frankly don’t trust them with my cell phone number. (By the way, my cell phone number is only given to immediate family,  and I hardly consider Facebook a member of my family.)

I suppose that I will have no choice but to enter those annoying Captcha codes when I make a post on my own page. But one thing is for sure – I won’t be supporting any of Facebook's advertisers.


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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Memo to Anthony Weiner – It’s the Lie, Not the Photos That Is The Problem

Dear Congressman Weiner,

You’re not my congressman so I really should not care about whether or not you’re in office. But I don’t get why you think you should not have to resign over "Weinergate."

It’s not about the lewd photos you sent to others. I could care less about that behavior, although I do wonder why you would feel the need to do something that so disrespects your office. It seems a major lapse in common sense.

The issue is – you lied about it. Maybe you thought you were being clever by avoiding answering any questions about whether you sent those photos with a direct yes or no answer. But the whole story you concocted about your account being hacked and that someone else was responsible for sending the photos was blatantly false. It is perplexing that you don’t seem to understand that you did anything wrong. This is not just a little “white lie.”

If you can lie about something as simple as this, what else are you capable of lying about? Can constituents trust anything that you say? Your lie has disgraced your office and the story has become a major distraction to the real issues of the country – like the economy.

My opinion is that you should resign, and do it quickly. Then you can devote all your time to emailing your photos to whomever you want.



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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Newsflash: Everything Causes Cancer

Yesterday’s big news story from the World Health Organization that cell phones can cause cancer rattled many who use cell phones, whether they are heavy users or not.

That same story also is causing some cancer warning fatigue. After all, it seems every week or so there is a news story that something causes cancer. Sometimes organizations disagree on whether something causes cancer.

My conclusion is that anything done to excess will cause cancer. For example, if you eat too much, drink too much, or smoke too much, you’re asking for trouble. Travel by air a lot? You may be exposing yourself to too much radiation. Eat too many non-organic foods and the pesticides may give you cancer. Drink too much coffee, tea, acidic drinks and maybe you’ll get stomach or esophageal cancer. I could go on and on with all the cancer causers we’ve been exposed to over the years.

As electronics proliferate, and things that use wireless signals continue to increase in use, this may be the next thing that will be a cancer risk. Suggestions to use Bluetooth devices instead of putting a cell phone up to your ear doesn't seem like much of a solution to me unless someone can prove those devices right in your ear also won’t also cause cancer.

Living your life living under a rock isn’t the answer either, as rocks can emit radon gases which can also cause cancer. Yes, the living under a rock comment was meant as a joke, but the radon gas thing is not.

I am convinced that no one really has the answer for what causes cancer, whether it be one thing or a combination of things.   My oldest sister developed bone cancer in the late 1960s when she was 16 years old, and she died at 17. She had no cell phones, she didn’t smoke, drink, or eat too much. She didn’t drink coffee or tea or lots of pop/soda. At the time, the doctors said they were working on understanding what causes cancer. It's now over 40 years later and I think that medicine is still making educated guesses.

So it seems the best thing people can do to avoid cancer is to simply not overdo it with anything. Eat healthy, exercise, don’t smoke or don’t drink alcohol in excess, and get off those cell phones and get more face time with your contacts!



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Friday, May 27, 2011

Retailers: Just Get Me Through the Checkout Line

I had to stop in the local Kmart today. I’m not a regular shopper  but there are one or two items they carry that I sometimes can’t find elsewhere. I quickly made my way through the store and got to the checkout line. After waiting what seemed like forever for the woman ahead of me to get through the check out, the cashier rings up my small purchase and the litany of questions begin:

Would you like to use your credit card today? (My answer – no, thank you.)

Would you like to use your Sears credit card today? (Answer – no, thank you.)

Do you HAVE a Sears credit card? (Answer – No.)

Would you like to open a Sears credit card? (Answer – No.)

Would you like to donate to the March of Dimes? (Answer – No.)

I really don’t like it when it feels like the Inquisition just to get through the checkout line. It’s also a pity that they ask you if you want to donate to the charity of the day AFTER they badger you with questions about how you’re going to pay for your purchase.

Here’s my suggestion to Kmart on how the check out process should go:

1. If you want someone to contribute to a charity, ask that question first.
2. Ask the person if they want to pay by cash or by credit/debit card. Period. If you want people to sign up for your store brand credit card, put a small sign up by the register so customers can see it as they approach.

That’s it. I’m sure the customers will be thrilled at not having to answer 20 questions before they check out, and I’m sure the cashiers won’t sound like automatons reciting the litany of questions. You may actually get customers through the checkout line faster. Now that is something customers will like…and it doesn’t cost anything.




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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love DVRs, Hate the Picture Freeze and Lockups

One of the best things to happen for lovers of television is the DVR. One of the worst thinks to happen to lovers of television is the DVR. How can it be both?

The answer is simple, DVRs allow viewers to easily digitally record television shows, in most cases more than one show at a time, and to play them back at will. But the downside to DVRs is that they are subject to lockup and freezing at inopportune moments, which can cause not only the show you’re recording to lose transmission but also whatever you happen to be watching. Nothing is more annoying than having your DVR display a black screen when you change the channel because the HD signal is corrupted or the DVR just can process the command. A few weeks ago, there was a major glitch with Time Warner in northern Ohio which caused the picture to jump and juggle and then disappear, not just once, but multiple times within a broadcast. (TVs not using a DVR or cable box were not affected.)  Time Warner promised credit – but only to those who contacted Time Warner to ask for it. Personally, I think Time Warner should have credited everyone for the  4-5 days of transmission problems; they know very well the problem was widespread.

But, back to DVRs. Serious consideration should be given to improving the dependability of these devices. It takes very little to cause then to become “confused” and to lock up. They also are horribly slow at times to respond to changing a channel, not to mention the length of time it takes them to reboot. My DVR is the newest model that Time Warner can offer at it is still awful at times. If I wasn’t paying an arm and a leg for Time Warner Cable, I wouldn’t be complaining. (I should clarify this is problem is not limited to Time Warner.) When I was a kid, watching television was free and we only had 3-4 channels that we needed “rabbit ears” or outside antennas to get a signal, and recording a TV show to watch later was virtually impossible for most. Now we have hundreds of channels, lovely HD pictures, and we can record and play back whenever we want. Yet sometimes those DVRs and cable boxes are no better than those rabbit ears.


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Thursday, April 14, 2011

UPS = Unreasonably Priced Shipments

I had to make a rare return of some items I ordered via the Internet. It was one of those situations where I thought I was ordering the correct product based on the photo and description of the item. It was a small item – small enough to fit into an 8 x 11 inch padded envelope. The shipment came with an automatic UPS return label, but the company also said they would deduct about $7 from my credit if I used the label.

Thinking that I could ship it for a lot less than $7, I headed over to my local UPS store, where I was told this small envelope would cost me over $16 to ship. Sixteen dollars?!?!? I was flabbergasted. This seemed completely out of whack. I decided it would be less costly to use the ARS label…but then I decided to drive to the nearby post office and check out their price. It was worth the drive – it only cost a little over $3.00 to ship that envelope – and with the package insured as well.

What does UPS provide that the post office doesn’t? Frankly, in the case of this shipment, nothing. OK, maybe those high prices cover the cost of those big brown trucks. What I don’t understand is that our local UPS driver travels the same route every weekday, he’s driving down my street daily around 2:30 in the afternoon, and he doesn’t even stop at every house. The postal carrier, however, stops by every morning, including Saturdays) and the carrier stops at virtually every house. It seems to me that the US Post Office has to work harder and cover more homes, yet they still charge a lot less. UPS may want you to think they are better at what they do, but the USPS still has that economy of scale that makes shipping less costly.

The bottom line is that $16 is far too much to pay to deliver a small envelope and UPS should be ashamed of themselves for charging that much. It also should be noted that many people take the US Post Office for granted, they certainly are the better value, despite the fact that they don’t have big brown trucks. So for me, the next time I hear that UPS slogan where someone asks “What can "Brown" do for you?” the answer from me will be “nothing.”



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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spectacular Japan Tsunami Video At Street Level

Being a photographer myself, I suppose that I would be compelled to get out the camera and film a natural disaster in progress. But after watching this video of the recent tsunami in Japan that was taken by a very brave person, I’m not sure I would have had the guts to stick with it as the videographer did.

The tsunami starts at street level with just a few cars in tow, but then quickly the wave builds and brings along boats and trucks. When the wave reaches an almost unbelievable, massive scale, buildings are swept away. Watch this video to the end – it will give you an appreciation of the magnitude of this disaster.





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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3rd Party Wireless Scams Are Lurking; Wireless Providers Are Enablers

At one point in time, most people have had a billing problem with their wireless provider. I’ve had a few cell providers over my lifetime of wireless phones, but Verizon takes the cake in what I think is sloppy and maybe even dishonest billing practices.

Many times I’ve had to call Verizon for incorrect charges to my bill, most often for text messages charged to my phone or to my husband’s phone. We are usually within inches of a computer or a phone most times, so texting was never a feature we wanted on our phones and it seemed silly to pay extra for something we would never use. We had our phones blocked from receiving or sending text messages quite some time ago, especially after mystery text message charges appeared on our bill.

Things got worse when we started getting charged for text messages by Verizon, even after the text block was put into place. Trying to get those charges reversed was a pain but Verizon eventually applied the credits, seeing that they couldn’t very well charge us for text messages that their system showed were being blocked.

But today Verizon really topped themselves. They added $9.99 to my cell phone bill for a premium service – a service neither my husband nor I ordered. When I called the Verizon customer service department, I was told that the premium service is a “double opt-in,” meaning that a person can subscribe on the Internet (not necessarily on their cell phone) and a text would go to the cell phone number that was input on the web site to confirm the charge. How then, I asked, could someone approve the charge if my cell phone is blocked from text messages? The answer was that Verizon would block the charge going forward but that the first charge was authorized and I had to pay it. (As I am already angry, this was not the right thing for the customer service agent to say.) Clearly this customer service agent completely missed the point – the charges could not have been authorized by me, as their own text messaging system would not gave allowed the text message to come to me to request approval, nor could I send a text out to approve it. (What part of having all text messages blocked did she not understand?) The customer service agent was unable to comprehend that they had more than one flaw in their system - the approval could not have been given for the premium service, so neither Verizon nor the 3rd party company had the right to charge me, therefore the charge should be removed from my bill.

After demanding to speak to a supervisor and explaining the matter, it became clear to her right away that the charge was incorrect and my account would be credited. The supervisor also agreed that something had to be wrong in the process and she would report it. (I hope she was not just saying this to placate me.) In this case, I believe the blame is twofold: the 3rd party for charging for something that clearly was not approved, and Verizon for not verifying that the 3rd party’s charge is, in fact, valid. It seems in this case, the 3rd party assumed that a “no response” to their text message meant it was OK to process the charge – and that is just plain wrong.

I was shocked to find out that anyone can go on a web site, input YOUR cell phone number and charge a premium service to your wireless account without your knowledge. It's bad enough one has to worry about credit cards numbers being stolen and used fraudulently, now there is another avenue where scammers can try to steal from you. It’s even worse when wireless providers like Verizon are enabling them.



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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is It Union Busting – Or Necessary Cost Containment?

It started in Wisconsin where Republican Governor Scott Walker proposed a budget which demanded concessions from certain state employees (such as teachers, but not police and firefighters). The governor set in his sights the employees rights to collective bargaining. Walker’s approach has now spread to other states, and, like the protesters in the Wisconsin state capital, protests in other states are also taking place.

The increasing costs for state and federal employees continues to spiral upwards, while many who work in the private sector have seen their salaries and benefits take a cut. In many cases in the private sector, employees are asked to contribute more and more for health insurance, and in some cases pay more for less benefit.

I don’t think it is wrong for people working in the private sector – whose taxes pay the salaries of government workers - to expect government workers to also feel the effects of having less government budget money to pay for salaries and benefits. I do not agree, however, with the governor’s approach to the problem by limiting the public employees' collective bargaining.

If states have less money to spend for government employees, and unions refuse to make concessions to help meet a reduced budget, then there is only one option: cut jobs. It sounds like a bitter pill, but something has to give. As a taxpayer who has worked in private industry all my life, I have grown tired of state and federal entities who spend money as if they had a blank check. I am also tired of the rich pensions and benefits that some many state and federal agencies enjoy, again, as if there was a blank check.

It’s time for government employees to take some cuts. But, ihe way to do it is NOT by limiting bargaining rights. The way to do it is exactly through bargaining. If government employees won’t make concessions then they will have to face the hard reality – some of their jobs may be gone. This may be “tough love” but it may be the only fair thing to do for employees AND for taxpayers.



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Friday, February 4, 2011

News Anchors In Egypt – Informing or Inflaming?

With protests increasing in Egypt and an all out revolt in progress, some of the big news outlets sent their own “big guns” in order to cover the story in person. Brian Williams and Lester Holt (NBC), Katie Couric (CBS), Anderson Cooper (CNN) all headed in to the heart of the matter in order to bring the story to viewers.

They were not greeted with open arms, instead they were greeted with hostility. Katie left the country soon after, the others quickly ran for cover in their hotels, covering the stories from balconies and building rooftops in safety.

The big questions are – what value is there in sending the network anchors into the heart of a massive protest? Does it make a difference if they cover the story from a rooftop in safety or from their anchor desk in safety? What kinds of big scoops to they get while being there that an already embedded reporter and camera crew can’t already get? Does their presence give those that are protesting only more attention and he sense of more power, therefore adding more fuel to the fire? Is it a coincidence that as the news anchors appeared, the protests took an even more angry turn for the worse, with so called opposition protesters coming in to stir up more trouble and venting the hostilities toward the media?

This should be a teachable moment for the networks. Keep your big salaried and probably costly to insure news anchors at home, and let the people who work the area normally cover the story. And make no mistake, stories like this are very important and must be covered. But the news anchors don’t need to be part of the story themselves. The story can still be covered thoroughly without sending high priced news anchors - who usually sit at a desk reading a teleprompter - to make the trip into the heart of trouble. The uprising in Egypt is about freedom, not about news ratings!



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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Political “Miranda” Warning: Everything You Say Can Be Used Against You

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Anyone who has watched a TV crime show has heard the police or a detective read the Miranda warning to a person being arrested. The basic Miranda rights are as follows (there are some state variations):

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

Well, maybe it’s time to have something like the Miranda warning to cover political commentary, geared to politicians, journalists, the media, bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users – well, let’s just say everybody who wants to make any public statement, political or otherwise. This warning could be something very simple, something like what I have developed here:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to your own opinions, but you will be accountable for them and others have the right to disagree with you. If you understand these rights as they have been given to you, then go ahead and say or write whatever you want.

Here in the United States, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. People should not confuse this with being able to say anything one wants without consequence. I am perplexed when politicians make statements or post things on their website (or on Facebook or Twitter) and then they become upset or defensive when others hold them accountable for what they say. To rewrite a metaphor: those whose political lives live by their words and actions, their political lives can die by those same words and actions. The lesson here is that there may be times when one should just remain silent.



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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sarah Palin’s “Target” List: Incited Murder, or Unfortunate Coincidence?

Last March, I wrote here expressing my alarm over ex-Governor (and currently holding no elected office) Sarah Palin, and her publishing of a list targeting public officials who were supporters of health care reform (see ” Domestic Terrorism: Sarah Palin Puts Democrats in the Crosshairs, Tells People to “Reload”.)

The worst thing imaginable has happened. One of those people on Palin's list – Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D - AZ) – was shot in the head yesterday while making a public appearance. While she is still alive and in intensive care, others were not so lucky. Six people were also killed, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and 14 others were wounded. The “alleged” shooter – you know, the guy who had the gun and was wrestled to the ground, nothing “alleged: about that – is in custody.

As of this writing, the motivation for the shooting remains unclear. But Sarah Palin’s earlier call to arms mentioning Giffords’ name along with many others, is still is fresh in the minds of many. I believed then and I believe now that her anti-health reform rhetoric was dangerous and could be perceived as a literal call to action by those with a gun looking for an excuse to use it. If there does appear there was a connection with Palin’s call to action and this shooting, then I think there should be some way that she should be charged for something, like threatening elected officials or conspiracy to commit murder. It is simply not excusable to let anyone encourage others to shoot and/or kill in the name of their personal beliefs without paying the consequences if someone takes them up on their suggestion.

If it turns out that there was no connection with Palin’s words and the shooting and this is all a horrible and unfortunate coincidence, let this be a lesson to Palin and other big talkers who incite and rile up people for their own causes or political gains: learn to keep your mouth shut and your threats to yourself. (And for voters: don’t support or vote for people who stoop to this type of rhetoric.)

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